Billboard’s Friday Music Guide serves as a handy guide to this Friday’s most essential releases — the key music that everyone will be talking about today, and that will be dominating playlists this weekend and beyond.
This week, The Weeknd stands alongside fellow Idols Madonna and Playboi Carti, Foo Fighters pay tribute to a fallen brother and Peso Pluma lays down a session with Bizarrap. Check out all of this week’s picks below:
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Peso Pluma & Bizarrap, “BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 55”
Considering how their respective rises have been similarly meteoric, the pairing of Peso Pluma and Bizarrap, on the latest edition of the latter’s viral YouTube series, constitutes one of the biggest collaborations of 2023, in any genre — an unlikely proposition just a few months ago. Yet “BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 55” makes the most of the ascendant Mexican artist’s increasingly ubiquitous croon and the Argentine producer’s knack for letting his collaborators shine, then swooping in with some nifty embellishments: listen to how the team-up takes off into the stratosphere when a trap beat and more production effects arrive in the song’s final minute.
The Weeknd with Playboi Carti & Madonna, “Popular”
This week, one HBO Sunday-night franchise shuts down and another opens up, as the series finale of Succession is followed by the premiere of the controversy-courting music industry drama The Idol, co-starring The Weeknd. On “Popular,” the latest track from the series’ forthcoming soundtrack, The Weeknd, Madonna and Playboi Carti function like Kendall, Shiv and Roman pre-boardroom drama: what looks like an odd collection of artists on paper complement each other nicely, with The Weeknd and Madonna providing pop flourishes over plinking rhythms and Carti accentuating the song with some clipped bars to polish off what could be a kicky summer song.
Foo Fighters, But Here We Are
A press release for Foo Fighters’ latest album describes But Here We Are as “hard-fought” — an understandable description, considering the shocking death of drummer Taylor Hawkins last year and the band’s decision to continue recording and touring in spite of his absence. Produced with Greg Kurstin and featuring some of Dave Grohl’s most nakedly heartfelt songwriting to date, But Here We Are finds power in grief: the 10-minute “The Teacher” towers above the rest of the album with choked-up ambition, but straightforward rockers like “The Glass,” where Growl howls “I had a vision of you, and just like that / I was left to live without it,” are just as effective.
Metro Boomin, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse soundtrack
The Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse soundtrack combines two successful brand names: the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse produced the No. 1 hit “Sunflower” by Swae Lee and Post Malone, while Metro Boomin, who helms the sequel soundtrack, has been scorching hot himself lately, thanks for last year’s Heroes & Villains albums and its top 10 smash “Creepin.” Like its predecessor, the Across the Spider-Verse set boasts a cavalcade of hip-hop superheroes — Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Wayne, Offset, A$AP Rocky — but contains a greater cohesion thanks to Metro’s watchful eye; in addition to unexpected turns by James Blake and Nas on standalone tracks, we also get a pair of Swae Lee Spider-Verse curtain calls, “Calling” and “Annihilate.”
Jelly Roll, Whitsitt Chapel
Jason DeFord, better known as Jelly Roll, knows that he is an unlikely music star, to put it mildly: “It’s the f–king wildest story ever to me,” he says of his rise across multiple genre charts, after years of false starts and run-ins with the law, in the latest Billboard cover story. One listen to new album Whitsitt Chapel, however, will convince you that Jelly Roll’s stardom was preordained: nimble enough to hopscotch across sounds, clamp down on an anthem and transform his most intimate failings into universal inspiration, the singer-songwriter has translated his gifts onto a grand scale with the project, and is likely to provoke a sizable response.
Stray Kids, 5-Star
Commercial expectations are naturally high for Stray Kids’ latest project — after all, their two mini-albums from 2022, ODDINARY and MAXIDENT, both topped the Billboard 200 chart, giving the K-pop collective a place in the history books. Anticipation around 5-Star has reached a fever pitch, but if Stray Kids feel any pressure, they certainly don’t exhibit an ounce on the ultra-confident 5-Star, which once again combines pop, rap, dance and electronica into a product that caters to the group members’ individual skill sets and features some of the group’s punchiest cuts, including the wild-eyed opening shot “Hall of Fame” and the whisper-hook-laden “Super Bowl.”
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